All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria brushed off reports that said that the third wave will severely impact children. So far, children below 18 years of age have not been administered COVID-19 vaccine.
During a media briefing on Tuesday, Dr Guleria said, "It is a piece of misinformation that subsequent waves of the COVID-19 pandemic are going to cause severe illness in children. There is no data -- either from India or globally -- to show that children will be seriously infected in subsequent waves."
The AIIMS chief added that 60-70 per cent of children who were admitted to hospitals due to COVID-19 second wave either had comorbidities or low immunity. He said that healthy children recovered with mild illness without need for hospitalisation.
Dr Guleria also explained why waves occur in pandemics. "The second wave of 1918 Spanish Flu was the biggest, after which there was a smaller third wave," he said, explaining that waves occur in pandemics caused by respiratory viruses. SARS-CoV-2 is also a respiratory virus.
He said that multiple waves occur when there is a susceptible population but when a large part of the population acquires immunity, then the virus becomes endemic and the infection seasonal. Dr Guleria said that waves can also occur due to the change in the virus. "Since new mutations become more infectious, there is a higher chance for the virus to spread," he said.
The third reason why pandemics occur in waves is because of human behaviour. He said that people follow norms when cases increase but let their guards down when lockdowns are eased up. "Due to this, the virus again starts spreading in the community, leading potentially to another wave," he elaborated.
The AIIMS Director also said that in order to stop subsequent waves, people need to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour aggressively till a significant number part of the population is vaccinated or gain natural immunity. "When enough people are vaccinated or when we acquire natural immunity against the infection, then these waves will stop. The only way out is to strictly follow COVID appropriate behaviour," he said.
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